This entry into the Japan-only Premium Best series highlights the recordings of composer/performer Laura Nyro. Unlike other single-CD North American compilations, this 16-track disc gives sufficient time to her tragically underappreciated post-Smile recordings. Several of these titles are not even available on CD in the States, which is perhaps correlated to the seeming lack of interest. There are actually numerous advantages to this collection – not the least of which is the artist-sensitive track list. Presumably the Premium Best series is aimed at the casual enthusiast, as the hardcore collector would either already own the contents or buy it anyway if they were a completist. By including seminal album sides such as the imperially haunting "New York Tendaberry" and "Upstairs by a Chinese Lamp," a more accurate overview of Nyro's career is presented here.
Double-CD, career-spanning retrospective that offers little in the way of surprises: it's a tastefully selected overview of her career highlights, heaviest (and justifiably so) on her late '60s albums. There's the inevitable feeling of letdown as disc two progresses; her post-early '70s material is far less interesting than her earliest work, even if it's inoffensive. All of the first five albums (through 1971's Gonna Take a Miracle) are now on CD, so this is most suitable for the fan who isn't passionate enough to be a completist. Includes a couple of previously unreleased live tracks from the 1990s; the version of "Sweet Blindness," unfortunately, is not the original late-'60s recording, but from a late-'70s live album.
Laura Nyro's third Columbia effort is easily the equal of her previous two. The overwhelming strength of her song writing and distinctive arrangements fuel Christmas and the Beads of Sweat. Her unmistakable style of delivery maintains the continual examination of herself as a performer. The results are uniformly interesting and provocative as she continues to draw upon her love of jazz, folk, and R&B – which would inform Nyro's next album ,Gonna Take a Miracle, featuring the soul vocal trio LaBelle. Conceptually, this album is as potent as her previous effort, New York Tendaberry, but in a much different way. Rather than hanging together thematically, Christmas and the Beads of Sweat features two inclusive and distinctive sides of music – with different musicians and producers for each.
These 12 sides represent singer/songwriter Laura Nyro 's earliest professional recordings. More Than a New Discovery was originally issued on the Folkways label in conjunction with Verve Records in early 1967. The contents were subsequently reissued as The First Songs in 1969 after she began to garner national exposure with her first two LPs for Columbia – Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968) and New York Tendaberry (1969), respectively. Many of these titles became international hits for some of the early '70s most prominent pop music vocalists and bands. Among them, "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Blowing Away" were covered by the Fifth Dimension . "And When I Die" became one of Blood, Sweat & Tears signature pieces. Likewise, "Stoney End," as well as "I Never Meant to Hurt You," are both arguably best known via Barbra Streisand 's renditions.
American soprano Renee Fleming's first-ever holiday album celebrates the beloved and iconic Christmas season in New York City. From the holiday windows lining 5th Avenue to the red and green-lit spire of the Empire State Building, the essence of the city at the most wonderful time of year is captured on Christmas in New York. Pop, Broadway and jazz greats Chris Botti, Kurt Elling, Wynton Marsalis, Brad Mehldau, Kelli O Hara, Gregory Porter and Rufus Wainwright join Renée as she lends her sublime voice to hits like Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Silver Bells and other gems, including Central Park Serenade a brand new duet by songwriting legend Diane Warren.
Nyro peaked early, and Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, just her second album, remains her best. It's not only because it contains the original versions of no less than three songs that were big hits for other artists: "Sweet Blindness" (covered by the 5th Dimension), "Stoned Soul Picnic" (also covered by the 5th Dimension), and "Eli's Comin'" (done by Three Dog Night). It's not even just because those three songs are so outstanding. It's because the album as a whole is so outstanding, with its invigorating blend of blue-eyed soul, New York pop, and early confessional singer/songwriting. Nyro sang of love, inscrutably enigmatic romantic daredevils, getting drunk, lonely women, and sensual desire with an infectious joie de vivre. The arrangements superbly complemented the material with lively brass, wailing counterpoint backup vocals, and Nyro's own ebullient piano.